Tonight the Phils (41-35, 3rd NL East) will begin a four-game series with the worst team in the National League, the Pirates (27-51, 6th NL Central). Tonight’s game will be played at PNC Park and will start at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phils, who ended June with a 13-13 record, and are coming off a losing series with the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati (1-2), will be trying to feast on the Bucos’ pitching, in spite of having a few of their major players on the disabled list, especially Chase Utley, who will sometime today have his broken right thumb operated on, and will be out for the next four to six weeks, at least according to the rumor mill. (Whether he actually will have an operation we will all know by the end of the day). The Phils’ starter will be Cole Hamels (6-6, 4.08), who is coming off a lost against the Twins on June 26, where he went only four innings, giving up five runs on seven hits and three walks, while striking out three, in the Phils’ 5-1 lost. All of the Blue Jays’ runs came off of three home runs, two two-run shots and a solo home run. In his last three starts, Hamels is 1-1 with a no-decision, having given up ten runs, nine of which were earned, on seventeen hits and seven walks, while striking out eighteen. Against the Pirates, Hamels is 1-0 with a 3.79 ERA. The Pirates, meanwhile, who had ended June with a record of six wins and twenty loses, and are coming off a winning series against the Chicago Cubs in Chicago (2-1), will be trying to see if they can win their second straight series. The Pirates will send to the mound Daniel McCutchen (0-3, 11.00), who is coming off a lost against the A’s on June 26, as he pitched six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks, while he struck out two, in the Pirates’ 5-0 lost. In his last three games, two starts and a relief appearance, his record is 0-2, as he has given up ten runs on sixteen hits and three walks, while striking out four. This will be the first time that he has faced the Phils, who have a tendency to not hit well against pitchers who they are seeing for the first time.
The Phils will be trying to continue their recent offense revival against the Pirates, hoping to win at least three of the four games, while hoping that the recent loses of such high-caliber starters as Chase Utley and Placido Polanco will not be detrimental to the ball club, as they try to stay close to both the Braves and the Mets before the former come to Philadelphia for three games, starting on the fifth.
The Phils are presently three and a half games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves, who are off today, before they start a three-game weekend series with the fourth place Florida Marlins in Atlanta. There are two games back of the second-place New York Mets, who will be starting a four-game series of their own with the last-place Washington Nationals in the Nation’s Capitol. They are presently five games ahead of the Marlins, who are off today before the face they Braves for three-games in Atlanta. They are eight and a half games ahead of the Nationals, who will start a four-game set against the Mets tonight in Washington, D.C. They hope to win tonight to gain half of game against both the Braves, and the Mets, and adding a half game against the Marlins, while hoping that the Nats will be able to handle the Mets tonight.